note taking

at least three quotes from Saposnik’s work that explain how Victorian-period morality is expressed through the duality of Jekyll and Hyde.
at least three quotes from Chesterton’s work that explain how Victorian-period morality is expressed through the duality of Jekyll and Hyde.
Below each quotation, show how Victorian period morality in England is reflected in the duality of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
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Source = Robert Louis Stevenson by G. K. Chesterton
Chapter III.Youth and Edinburgh
It is the suggestion of this chapter that when Stevenson first stepped out of his early Edinburgh
home, he slipped upon the step. It may have been nothing worse, to begin with, than the ordinary
butter-slide of the buffoonery of youth; such buffoonery as makes up the typical Edinburgh tale called
The Misadventures of John Nicholson. But that tale alone would suggest that there was something a
little greasy or even grimy about the butter. It is an odd story for Stevenson to have written; and no
Stevensonian has any particular desire to dwell on those few of his works that might almost have been
written by somebody else. But it has a biographical importance that has hardly been properly estimated,
even in connection with this rather overworked biography. It is a curiously unlovely and uncomfortable
comedy, not even uncomfortable enough to be a tragedy. The hero is not only not heroic, but he is
hardly more amusing than attractive; and the fun that is made of him is not only not genial, but is not
particularly funny. It is strange that such misadventures should come from the mind that gave us the
radiant harlequinade of The Wrong Box. But I mention it here because it is full of a certain atmosphere,
into which Stevenson was plunged too abruptly, as I believe, when he passed from boyhood into youth.
It is true to call it the atmosphere, or one of the atmospheres of Edinburgh; yet it is the very reverse of
so much that we rightly associate with the arid dignity of the Modern Athens. There is something very
specially sordid and squalid in the glimpses of low life given in the dissipations of John Nicholson; and
something of the same kind comes to us like a gust of gas from the medical students of The Body
Snatcher. When I say that this first step of Stevenson led him rather abruptly astray, I do not mean that
he did anything half so bad as multitudes of polite persons have done in the most polished centres of
civilisation. But I do mean that his city was not, in that particular aspect, very polite or polished or even
particularly civilised. And I notice it because it has been noticed too little; and some other things have
been noticed too much.
It is an obvious truth that Stevenson was born of a Puritan tradition, in a Presbyterian country,
where still rolled the echoes, at least, of the theological thunders of Knox; and where the Sabbath was
sometimes more like a day of death than a day of rest. It is easy, only too easy, to apply this by
representing Stevenson’s father as a stern old Covenanter who frowned down the gay talents of his son;
and such a simplification stands out boldly in black and white. But like many other black and white
statements, it is not true; it is not even fair. Old Mr. Stevenson was a Presbyterian and presumably a
Puritan, but he was not a Pharisee; and he certainly did not need to be a Pharisee in order to condemn
some parts of the conduct of his son. It is probably true that almost any other son might have offended
equally; but it is also true that almost any other father would have been equally offended. The son
would have been the last to pretend that the faults were all on one side; the only thing that can concern
posterity in the matter is certain social conditions which gave to those faults a particular savour, which
counted for something even when the faults themselves have been long left behind. And while people
have written rather too much about the shadow of the Kirk and the restrictions of a Puritan society,
there is something that has not been seen about what may be called the underside of such a Puritan
city. There is something strangely ugly and ungracious not merely about the virtues but about the vices,
and especially the pleasures, of such a place. It can be felt, as I say, in Stevenson’s own stories and in
many other stories about Edinburgh. Blasts of raw whisky come to us on that raw wind: there is
sometimes something shrill, like the skirl of the pipes, about Scottish laughter; occasionally something
very nearly insane about Scottish intoxication. I will not connect it, as did a friend of mine, with the
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hypothesis that the heathen Scots originally worshipped demons; but it is probably connected with the
same rather savage intensity which gave them their theological thoroughness. Anyhow, it is true that in
such a world even temptation itself has something terrifying as well as tempting; and yet something at
the same time undignified and flat. It was this that cut across the natural poetic adventure or ambition
of a young poet; and gave to the early part of his story a quality of frustration, if not of aberration.
What was the matter with Stevenson, I fancy, in so far as there was ever anything much the
matter with him, was that there was too sharp a contrast between the shelter and delicate fancies of his
childhood and the sort of world which met him like the wind on the front door-step. It was not merely
the contrast between poetry and Puritanism; it was also the contrast between poetry and prose; and
prose that was almost repulsively prosaic. He did not believe enough in Puritanism to cling to it; but he
did believe very much in a potential poetry of life, and he was bewildered by its apparently impossible
position in the world of real living. And his national religion, even if he had believed in his religion as
ardently as he believed in his nation, would never have met that particular point at issue.
Puritanism had no idea of purity. We might almost say that there is every other virtue in
Puritanism except purity; often including continence, which is quite a different thing from purity. But it
has not many images of positive innocence; of the things that are at once white and solid, like the white
chalk or white wood which children love. This does not detract at all from the noble Puritan qualities:
the republican simplicity, the fighting spirit, the thrift, the logic, the renunciation of luxuries, the
resistance to tyrants, the energy and enterprise which have helped to give the Scot his adventurous
advantage all over the world. But it is none the less true that there has been in his creed, at best,
negative rather than positive purity: the difference between the blank white window and the ivory
tower. I know that a Victorian prejudice still regards this interpretation of history by theology as a piece
of most distressing bad taste. I also know that this taboo on the main topic of mankind is becoming an
intolerable nuisance; and preventing anybody, from the Papist to the atheist, from saying what he really
thinks about the most real themes in the world. And I will take the liberty of stating, in spite of the
taboo, that it is really relevant here to remember this Puritan defect. It is as much a fact that the Kirk of
Stevenson’s country had no cult of the Holy Child, no feast of the Holy Innocents, no tradition of the
Little Brothers of St. Francis, nothing that could in any way carry on the childish enthusiasm for simple
things, and link it up with a lifelong rule of life—this is as much a fact as that the Quakers are not a good
military school or the good Moslem a good wine-taster. Hence it followed that when Stevenson left his
home, he shut the door on a house lined with fairy gold, but he came out on a frightful contrast; on
temptations at once attractive and repulsive, and terrors that were still depressing even when they were
disregarded. The boy in such surroundings is torn by something worse than the dilemma of Tannhäuser.
He wonders why he is attracted by repellent things.
I will here make what is a mere guess in the dark; and in a very dark matter of the mind. But I
suspect that it was originally out of this chasm of ugly division that there rose that two-headed monster,
the mystery of Jekyll and Hyde. There is indeed one peculiarity about that grim grotesque which I have
never seen noted anywhere; though I dare say it may have been noted more than once. It will be
realised that I am not, alas, so close a student of Stevensoniana as many who seem to think much less of
Stevenson. But it seems to me that the story of Jekyll and Hyde, which is presumably presented as
happening in London, is all the time very unmistakably happening in Edinburgh. More than one of the
characters seem to be pure Scots. Mr. Utterson, the lawyer, is a most unmistakably Scottish lawyer,
strictly occupied with Scots Law. No modern English lawyer ever read a book of dry divinity in the
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evening merely because it was Sunday. Mr. Hyde indeed possesses the cosmopolitan charm that unites
all nations; but there is something decidedly Caledonian about Dr. Jekyll; and especially something that
calls up that quality in Edinburgh that led an unkind observer (probably from Glasgow) to describe it as
“an east-windy, west-endy place.” The particular tone about his respectability, and the horror of mixing
his reputation with mortal frailty, belongs to the upper middle classes in solid Puritan communities. But
what is especially to the point of the present argument, there is a sense in which that Puritanism is
expressed even more in Mr. Hyde than in Dr. Jekyll. The sense of the sudden stink of evil, the immediate
invitation to step into stark filth, the abruptness of the alternative between that prim and proper
pavement and that black and reeking gutter—all this, though doubtless involved in the logic of the tale,
is far too frankly and familiarly offered not to have had some basis in observation and reality. It is not
thus that the ordinary young pagan, of warmer climes, conceives the alternative of Christ and Aphrodite.
His imagination and half his mind are involved in defending the beauty and dignity of the joy of gods and
men. It is not so that Stevenson himself came to talk of such things, when he had felt the shadow of old
Athens fall on the pagan side of Paris. I allow for all the necessary horror of the conception of Hyde. But
this dingy quality does not belong only to the demon antics of Hyde. It is implied, somehow, in every
word about the furtive and embarrassed vices of Jekyll. It is the tragedy of a Puritan town; every bit as
much as that black legend which Stevenson loved, in which the walking-stick of Major Weir went
walking down the street all by itself. I hope to say something in a moment about the very deep and
indeed very just and wise morality that is really involved in that ugly tale. I am only remarking here that
the atmosphere and setting of it are those of some tale of stiff hypocrisy in a rigid sect or provincial
village; it might be a tale of the Middle West savagely dissected in the Spoon River Anthology. But the
point about it is that the human beauty which makes sin most dangerous hardly appears by a hint; this
Belial is never graceful or humane; and in this there seems to me to be something suggestive of the
inverted order and ugly contrast with which licence presents itself in a world that has frowned on
liberty. It is the utterance of somebody who, in the words of Kipling, knew the worst too young; not
necessarily in his own act or by his own fault, but by the nature of a system which saw no difference
between the worst and the moderately bad. But whatever form the shock of evil might take, I think it
jerked him out of the right development of his romantic nature; and was responsible for much that
seemed random or belated in his life.
I do not mean to imply that the morality of the story itself has anything of weakness or
morbidity; my opinion is very much the other way. Though the fable may seem mad, the moral is very
sane; indeed, the moral is strictly orthodox. The trouble is that most of those who mention it do not
know the moral, possibly because they have never read the fable. From time to time those anonymous
authorities in the newspapers, who dismiss Stevenson with such languid grace, will say that there is
something quite cheap and obvious about the idea that one man is really two men and can be divided
into the evil and the good. Unfortunately for them, that does not happen to be the idea. The real stab of
the story is not in the discovery that the one man is two men; but in the discovery that the two men are
one man. After all the diverse wandering and warring of those two incompatible beings, there was still
one man born and only one man buried. Jekyll and Hyde have become a proverb and a joke; only it is a
proverb read backwards and a joke that nobody really sees. But it might have occurred to the languid
critics, as a part of the joke, that the tale is a tragedy; and that this is only another way of saying that the
experiment was a failure. The point of the story is not that a man can cut himself off from his
conscience, but that he cannot. The surgical operation is fatal in the story. It is an amputation of which
both the parts die. Jekyll, even in dying, declares the conclusion of the matter; that the load of man’s
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moral struggle is bound upon him and cannot be thus escaped. The reason is that there can never be
equality between the evil and the good. Jekyll and Hyde are not twin brothers. They are rather, as one of
them truly remarks, like father and son. After all, Jekyll created Hyde; Hyde would never have created
Jekyll; he only destroyed Jekyll. The notion is not so hackneyed as the critics find it, after Stevenson has
found it for them thirty years ago. But Jekyll’s claim is not that it is the first of such experiments in
duality; but rather that it must be the last.
Nor do I necessarily admit the technical clumsiness which some have alleged against the tale,
merely because I believe that many of its emotions were first experienced in the crude pain of youth.
Some have gone into particular detail in order to pick it to pieces; and Mr. E. F. Benson has made the (to
me) strange remark that the structure of the story breaks down when Jekyll discovers that his chemical
combination was partly accidental and is therefore unrecoverable. The critic says scornfully that it would
have done just as well if Jekyll had taken a blue pill. It seems to me odd that any one who seems to know
so much about the devil as the author of Colin should fail to recognise the cloven hoof in the cloven
spirit called up by the Jekyll experiment. That moment in which Jekyll finds his own formula fail him,
through an accident he had never foreseen, is simply the supreme moment in every story of a man
buying power from hell; the moment when he finds the flaw in the deed. Such a moment comes to
Macbeth and Faustus and a hundred others; and the whole point of it is that nothing is really secure,
least of all a Satanist security. The moral is that the devil is a liar, and more especially a traitor; that he is
more dangerous to his friends than his foes; and, with all deference to Mr. Benson, it is not a shallow or
unimportant moral. But although the story ultimately emerged as a gargoyle very carefully graven by a
mature master-craftsman, and was moreover a gargoyle of the greatest spiritual edification, eminently
suited to be stuck on to the most sacred edifice, my point for the moment is that the stone of which it
was made was originally found, I think, by Stevenson as a boy, kicking about the street, not to mention
the gutter. In other words, he did not need to leave the respectable metropolis of the north to find the
weaknesses of Jekyll and the crimes of Hyde.
I deal with these things in general terms, not merely out of delicacy, but partly out of something
that I might almost call impatience or contempt. For the quarrels between the Victorian whitewashers
and the Post-Victorian mudslingers seem to me deficient in the ordinary decent comprehension of the
difficulties of human nature. Both the scandalised and the scandalmonger seem to me to look very silly
beside the sensible person in the Bible, who confined himself to saying that there are things that no man
knows, such as the way of a bird in the air and the way of a man in his youth. That Stevenson was in the
mature and sane sense a good man is certain, without any Victorian apologetics; that he never did
anything that he thought wrong is improbable, even without any elaborate cloacan researches; and the
whole thing is further falsified by the fact that, outside a certain religious tradition, very few either of
the whitewashers or the mudslingers really believe in the morality involved. The former seek to save
nothing better than respectability; the latter even when they slander can hardly condemn. Stevenson
was not a Catholic: he did not pretend to have remained a Puritan; but he was a highly honourable,
responsible and chivalrous Pagan, in a world of Pagans who were most of them considerably less
conspicuous for chivalry and honour. I for one, if I may say so, am ready to defend my own standards or
to judge other men by theirs. But the Victorian pretence that every well-dressed hero of romance with
over five hundred a year is born immune from the temptations which the mightiest saints have rolled
themselves in brambles to control—that does not concern me and I shall not discuss it again.

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But what does concern me, at this particular stage of the story, is not the question of what Stevenson
thought right or wrong when he had become consciously and consistently a Pagan, but the particular
way in which right and wrong appeared to him at this crude and groping age when he was still by
tradition a Puritan. And I do think there was something tail-foremost, to use one of his own favourite
words, in the way in which evil crept into his existence, as it does into everybody else’s. He saw the tail
of the devil before he saw his horns. Puritanism gave him the key rather to the cellars than the halls of
Babylon; and something thus subterranean, suffocating and debased rolls like a smoke over the story of
Jekyll and Hyde. But I only mention these matters as part of a general unfolding of his mind and moral
nature, which seems to me to have had a great deal to do with the latter development of his destiny.
The normal, or at least the ideal, development of a man’s destiny is from the coloured chamber of
childhood to an even more romantic garden of the faith and tryst of youth. It is from the child’s garden
of verses to the man’s garden of vows. I do not think that time of transition went right with Stevenson; I
think that something thwarted or misled him; I think it was then that the east wind of Edinburgh
Puritanism blew him out of his course, so that he returned only long after to anything like a secure
loyalty and a right human relation. In a word, I think that in his childhood he had the best luck in the
world, and in his youth the worst luck in the world; and that this explains most of his story.
Anyhow, he found no foothold on those steep streets of his beautiful and precipitous city; and
as he looked forth over the litter of little islands in the large and shining estuary, he may have had some
foreshadowing of that almost vagabond destiny which ended in the ends of the earth. There seemed in
one sense no social reason why it should not end in Edinburgh as it had begun in Edinburgh. There
seemed nothing against a normal successful career for one so brilliant, so graceful and essentially so
humane; his story might have been as comfortable as a Victorian three-volume novel. He might have
had the luck to marry an Edinburgh lady as delightful and satisfactory as Barbara Grant. He might have
presided over the revels of a new bunch of Stevensons, coming home from Leith Walk laden with the
gay portfolios of Skelt. They also might have bought Penny Pickwicks or gone about girt with lanterns;
and his own view of these things might have altered, though not necessarily weakened, with the
responsibility of one who sees them reproduced in others. But among these early Edinburgh pranks,
which he has left on record, was one which is something of a symbol. He speaks somewhere of a special
sort of apples which he gathered by the seashore, which were such as might well be gathered from the
salted and crooked trees that grow by the sea. I do not know what it was; or what form it took; or
whether it ever took any definable form at all. But somehow or other, in thought or word or deed, in
that bleak place he ate the apple of knowledge; and it was a crab apple.
I think it was partly the pains of youth that afterwards made so vivid to him the pleasures of
childhood. The break in his life was of course partly due to the break in his health. But it was also due, I
think, to something ragged and unseemly in the edge of life he laid hold of when he touched the hem of
her garment; to something unsatisfactory in all that side of existence as it appears accidentally to the
child of Puritan conventions. The effect on him was that, during those years, he grew up too much out of
touch with his domestic and civic, if not his national traditions; knowing at once too much and too little.
He was never denationalised; for he was a Scotsman; and a Scotsman never is, even when he is in theory
internationalised. But he did begin to become internationalised, in the sense that he gained a sort of
indiscriminate intimacy with the culture of the world, especially the rather cynical sort of culture which
was then current. The local and domestic conventions, which were in many ways wrong, lost their
power to control him even when they were right. And in all that retrospect nothing remained so real as
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the unreal romances of the first days. In the Puritan creeds there was nothing that he could believe,
even as much as he had believed in make-believe. There was nothing to call him back half so clearly as
the call of that childish rhyme of which he afterwards wrote, in the touching dedication that has the
burden, “How far is it to Babylon?” Unfortunately it is not very far to Babylon. That cosmopolitan market
of the arts, which is in his story perhaps best represented by Paris, called to him more and more to live
the life of the complete artist, which in those days had something like a touch of the complete anarchist.
He passed into it, ultimately in person and already in spirit; there was nothing to call him back but the
thin and tiny cry of a tin trumpet; that sounded once and was mute.
I say there was nothing to call him back; and very little to restrain him; and to any one who
really understands the psychology and philosophy of that time of transition, it is really rather a wonder
that he was so restrained. All his after adventures will be misunderstood if we do not realise that he left
behind him a dead religion. Men are misled by the fact that he often used the old national creed as a
subject; which really means rather that it had become an object. It was a subject that had ceased to be
subjective; he worked upon it and not with it. He and the inheritors of his admirable tradition, like Barrie
and Buchan, treated that national secret genially and even tenderly; but their very tenderness was the
first soft signal that the thing was dead. At least they would never have so fondled the tiger-cat of
Calvinism until, for them, its teeth were drawn. Indeed this was the irony and the pathos of the position
of Scottish Calvinism: to be rammed down people’s throats for three hundred years as an unanswerable
argument and then to be inherited at the last as an almost indefensible affection; to be expounded to
boys with a scowl and remembered by men with a smile; to crush down all human sentiments and to
linger at last in the sentimental comedy of Thrums. All that long agony of lucidity and masterful logic
ended at last suddenly with a laugh; and the laugh was Robert Louis Stevenson. With him the break had
come; and it follows that something in himself was broken. The whaups were crying round the graves of
the martyrs, and his heart remembered, but not his mind; great Knox blew thrice upon the trumpet, and
what thrilled him were no words but a noise; Old Mortality seemed still to be tinkering on his eternal
round to preserve the memorials of the Covenant, but a bell had already tolled to announce that even
Old Mortality was mortal. When Stevenson stepped into the wider world of the Continent, with its more
graceful logic and even its more graceful vice, he went as one emptied of all the ethics and metaphysics
of his home, and open to all the views and vices of a rationalistic civilisation. All the deeper lessons of his
early life must have seemed to him to be dead within him; nor did he himself know what thing within
him was yet alive.

TheA natomyo f Dr. Jekylla nd Mr. Hyde IRVING S. SAPOSNIK Although
Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the most popular
of his stories, it has paid the price of its popularity. Originally written as a fable
of Victorian anxieties, it has been distorted into a myth of good-evil antithesis,
a simplistic dichotomy rather than an imaginative exploration of social and
moral dualism. The story is actually the most sophisticated of Stevenson’s
narratives. London is the geographical location because it best represents the
center of the norma-tive Vietorian world. The major characters are all
professional gentle-men because their respectability provides the facade
behind which their essential selves are allowed to masquerade. The central
issue is the neces-sity for moral and social flexibility in a society which
dictates rigidity. Henry Jekyll’s experiment to free himself from the burden of
duality results in failure because of his moral myopia, because he is a victim of
society’s standards even while he would be free of them. Jekyll attempts to
unleash the Hyde in him not because he wishes to give all of himself free
expression, but because he wishes to live more comfortably with his
peccadilloes. By carefully juggling the literal and the symbolic, Stevenson
details the emerging influence of Hyde, the amoral abstraction who takes
possession not only of Jekyll’s being but of many a reader’s imagination. Hyde
so dominates the popular mind that Jekyll’s role has been all but obscured. In
order for the story to become fully meaningful again, their true identities must
be restored. No WORK OF STEVENSON’S has been so popular or so harmed
by its popularity as (to give it its full name) The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and
Mr. Hyde (1886). As pulpit oratory, as starring vehicle on stage and screen, as
colloquial metaphor for the good-evil antithesis that lurks in all men, it has
become the victim of its own success, allowing subsequent generations to
take the translation for the original, to see Jekyll or Hyde where one should
see Jekyll-Hyde. A photograph of Richard Mansfield as he played the dual role
in T. R. Sullivan’s play illustrates the conventional attitude: Jekyll appears as
the epitome of goodness-eyes upraised to heaven and one arm lifted in
allegiance to heaven’s direction-lacking only a halo to complete his beatitude,
while Hyde crouches menacingly-hairy, grimacing, unkempt-eager to pounce
from within his Jekyllian confines and spread the foul juices of his subversive
glands.l ‘In Paul Willstach, Richard Mansfield: The Man and the Actor (New
York, 1909), facing p. 146. Mansfield played Hyde as a manifestation
7R. D.JEKYLL ANlrD MR. HYDE While such a view is clearly oversimplified, it
is annoyingly persistent (much as the mispronunciation of Jekyll’s name).2
Only a careful reading of the story reveals its formal com-plexity and moral
depth. As a narrative, it is the most intri-cately structured of Stevenson’s
stories; as a fable, it repre-sents a classic touchstone of Victorian sensibilities.
It is clearly difficult today to detail each of the responsive chords which the
story struck in the Victorian mind, but its use of duality as both a structural
and thematic device suggests that its application goes beyond a simple
antithesis of moral opposites or physical components. Present evidence
indicates that Vic-torian man was haunted constantly by an inescapable sense
of division.3 As rational and sensual being, as public and private man, as
civilized and bestial creature, he found himself necessarily an actor, playing
only that part of himself suitable to the occasion. As both variables grew more
predictable, his of Jekyll’s lust, a creature of infinite sexual drive who “unable
by reason of his hideous shape to indulge the dreams of his hideous
imagination,” proceeds to satisfy his cravings in violence (quoted from
Mansfield’s notes in the Huntington Library). The transfer from stage to screen
only confirmed Mansfield’s interpretation. John Barrymore (1920) played Hyde
as the essence of a lust-ridden fiend, eyeing his victims with rapacious
lubricity. A latter-day Dorian Gray, he is more Wilde’s man than Stevenson’s
and his pleasure-seeking forays into the shadowy world of Soho are clearly
echoes from Wilde’s novel. Rouben Mamoulian’s 1932 version with Frederic
March in the dual role in-creased the sexual overtones. Not content with
suggestive pleasure haunts, Mamoulian inserted the character of Ivy, the
attractive bar-maid whose charms so affect the pent-up Jekyll that he must
indulge in sexual atrocities in order to satisfy his cravings. Later versions-
1941, 1968-with Spencer Tracy and Jack Palance in the respective title roles
followed the standard pattern with little ingenuity. What emerges from all this
is a portrait of Hyde with a decidedly modern veneer: released by the
intemperate tastes of Jekyll he exists in order to allow his double to gratify his
wanton lusts. As Edwin Eigner remarks: “It is perhaps unfortunate . . . that all
four of the important stage and screen productions of Jekyll and Hyde were
made in America, where the popular mind is especially apt to regard sex and
evil as synonymous terms,” [Robert Louis Stevenson and Romantic Tradition,
(Princeton, 1966), p. 150]. ‘Stevenson’s attempt to convince people that Jekyll
is pronounced with a long “e” [see J. C. Furnas, Voyage to Windward, (New
York, 1951), p. 304] may be ranked with his unsuccessful efforts to withstand
Hyde’s equation with sexuality. ‘See Masao Miyoshi, The Divided Self (New
York, 1969). I am also indebted to Mr. Miyoshi for some suggestive ideas
contained in his article “Dr. Jekyll and the Emergence of Mr. Hyde,” College
English, XXVII, 470-480. 716
IRVING S. SAPOSNIK role became more stylized and what was initially an
occasional practice became a way of life. By 1886 the English could already be
described as “Masqueraders” (as Henry Arthur Jones was to call them eight
years later), and it is to all aspects of this existential charade that Jekyll and
Hyde addresses itself. With characteristic haste, it plunges immediately into
the center of Victorian society to dredge up a creature ever present but
submerged; not the evil opponent of a contentious good but the shadow self
of a half-man. I Because its morality lies at the center of the Victorian world, no
detail in the story is as vital as its location. Critics, especially G. K.
Chesterton,4 have been quick to point out that the morality is actually more
Scottish than English and that the more proper setting would have been
Edinburgh. Yet although Chesterton and others are right in thinking that
Stevenson can no more put aside his Scottish heritage here than he can in
other stories, they fail to recognize that only London could serve as the locus
classicus of Victorian behavior. An enigma composed of multiple layers of
being, its confines held virtually all classes of society conducting what were
essentially independent lives. In the ’80s it could not have been much different
from Michael Sadleir’s description some twenty years before: London in the
early ‘sixties was still three parts jungle. Except for the residential and
shopping areas . . . hardly a district was really ‘public’ in the sense that
ordinary folk went to and fro…. There was no know-ing what kind of a queer
patch you might strike, in what blind alley you might find yourself, to what
embarrassment, insult, or even molestation you might be exposed. So the
conventional middle-class kept to the big thoroughfares, conscious that just
behind the house-fronts to either side murmured a million hidden lives, but
incurious as to their kind, and hardly aware that those who lived there were
also London citizens. (Forlorn Sunset, London, 1947, p. 21) 4Few critics have
written so well-with both wit and clarity-about Stevenson as Chesterton. Yet
here he tries too hard to make one point and thereby misses another. G. K.
Chesterton, Robert Louis Stevenson (London, n.d.), pp. 68-69. 717
DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE London was much like its inhabitants, a
macrocosm of the necessary fragmentation that Victorian man found
inescap-able. Unlike Edinburgh with its stark division of Old Town and New,
London represented that division-within-essential-unity which is the very
meaning of Jekyll and Hyde. As both geographic and symbolic center it
exemplified what Stevenson called it in New Arabian Nights, “the great
battlefield of mankind.” The appropriateness of the London setting may be
seen further from a revealing Victorian document, Rev. William Tuckniss’s
introduction to the fourth volume of Mayhew’s London Labour and the London
Poor (Dover reprint, New York, 1968). Intended as a guide to the several
reformative agencies at work to ameliorate the lot of the poor, Tuckniss’s
introduction has much to say about the city in which those poor eke out their
lives. In many ways a moral Baedeker, Tuckniss describes a London teeming
with vice while con-currently responsive to religious persuasion. Indeed he
rises to such rhapsody about its mixed nature that one cannot help seeing this
mix as a necessary ingredient for moral reformer and artistic creator alike: It is
in the crowded city, however, that the seeds of good and evil are brought to the
highest state of ma-turity, and virtue and vice most rapidly developed, under
the forcing influences that everywhere abound. . . . London then may be
considered as the grand cen-tral focus of operations, at once the emporium of
crime and the palladium of Christianity. It is, in fact, the great arena of conflict
between the powers of darkness and the ministry of heaven. … It is here that
they join issue in the most deadly proximity, and struggle for the
vantage-ground. (xiv, xv) Tuckniss’s descriptive language is strikingly similar
to Steven-son’s: in both, London is the essential metaphor, and as “the great
battlefield of mankind” or “the great arena of [moral] conflict,” it is the vital
center of the Victorian world. Of equal importance to a consideration of Jekyll
and Hyde are the people who inhabit that world and the manner in which they
are presented. Critics have often complained that the London of the story is
singularly devoid of women (Stephen Gwynn likens the atmosphere to “a
community of monks,” [Robert Louis Stevenson (London, 1939), p. 130]. 718
IRVING S. SAPOSNIK For once it is easy to account for this omission without
refer-ence to the bogeyman of Victorian prudery. For better or worse, Victoria’s
age, despite its monarch, was male-centered and a story so directed at the
essence of its moral behavior is best seen from a male perspective. In
addition, and here is where Gwynn’s figure is so apt, an air of fierce austerity
pervades the story, a peculiarly masculine breed of asceticism which, like the
London fog, colors the entire surface. It is as if the atmospheric color were
itself a symbol of normative rigidity. The men of the story are representative
Victorian types, exemplars of a harsh life best seen in the somber context of
their professional and social conduct. The four prominent men in the story are
gentlemen and, as such, are variations of standard gentlemanly behavior.
Three are professional men-two doctors, one lawyer-and the only
non-professional, Richard Enfield, is so locked into his role that his
description as “the well-known man about town” might as well be a
professional designation. The first to be in-troduced, “Mr. Utterson the lawyer,”
is characterized immedi-ately by his profession as well as by a somewhat
bitter-sweet compound of surface harshness and internal sympathy. Given to
self-mortification in order to stifle temptation, he nonethe-less confines his
rigorous standard to himself. With others he is not only tolerant but charitable,
as he translates compassion into action. Feigning unconcern, he often
remains “the last good influence in the lives of down-going men.” Clearly the
moral norm of the story, he is introduced first not only because he is Jekyll’s
confidant (the only one remaining), but because by person and profession he
represents the best and worst of Victoria’s social beings. Pledged to a code
harsh in its applica-tion, he has not allowed its pressures to mar his sense of
human need. For himself he has chosen and he must make his life on that
choice, yet he judges others with the understanding necessary to human
weakness. As lawyer he represents that legality which identifies social
behavior as established law, unwritten but binding; as judge, however, he is a
combination of justice and mercy (as his names Gabriel John suggest),
tempering rigidity with kind-ness, self-denial with compassion. His reaction to
Hyde must be seen in this context. While Hyde’s grim visage seems suffi-cient
to alarm even the most objective observer (witness the 719
D R. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE Edinburgh apothecary), his threat to Jekyll’s
reputation, and possibly his person, makes him even more frightening to
Utterson, a partisan in the best sense of the term, loyal to his friends
especially in their adversity. He is the essence of what Stevenson meant when
he said: “It is the business of this life to make excuses for others. . . . Even
justice is no right of a man’s own, but a thing . . which he should strive to see
rendered to another” (“Reflections and Remarks on Human Life,” South Seas
edition, XIV, 213).5 Utterson’s walking companion, and the narrator of Hyde’s
first “crime,” Richard Enfield, appears as a strange, yet appropriate,
complement to his distant kinsman. Described as “a well-known man about
town,” his haunts and habits (“I was coming home from some place at the end
of the world, about three o’clock of a black winter morning”) seem the “other
Victorian” side of Utterson’s sobriety. Yet even their casual friendship
suggests a combination evidently not im-possible in the Victorian social world.
Their dull but necessary weekly stroll represents a public acknowledgement of
a possi-bility that Henry Jekyll, for one, was unwilling to admit, and it
reinforces the belief that the “other Victorians” are very much the Victorians
we have always known but only recently grown to understand. As distant as
Utterson appears to be, Enfield is the model of detached experience inured to
much of life’s ugliness (Utterson calls him “unimpressionable”). Thus when he
describes Hyde as “displeasing” and “detest-able,” his verdict may be seen as
more objective and more knowledgeable than his kinsman’s. While Utterson
and Enfield complement each other’s limita-tions, Lanyon and Jekyll reveal
one another’s emptiness. Eminent medical men with an initial “bond of
common inter-est,” they have severed their bond over what seems a
profes-sional quarrel, Jekyll’s metaphysical speculations which Lan-yon
admits were “too fanciful.” Lanyon, however, has made not so much a
professional judgment as a personal one; he has refrained from following
Jekyll out of cowardice rather than conviction. If Jekyll’s inquiries were “too
fanciful,” they were so because Lanyon lacked the courage, though not the
curiosity, to follow him, and his horror at the discovery that ‘All quoted
references to Stevenson’s works are to the South Seas edition, 32 vols., New
York, 1925. 720
IRVING S. SAPOSNIK Hyde and Jekyll are actually one is as much a
self-realization as it is a condemnation of his former friend. Lanyon
aban-doned Jekyll because he was afraid of the temptation to which he finally
succumbed, the offer made so perfectly by the serpentine Hyde coaxing the
more-than-willing Lanyon to discover “a new province of knowledge and new
avenues to fame and power.” A friend in name only, his envy of Jekyll works in
direct contrast to that which prompts Utterson to loyalty. Like Jekyll, Lanyon’s
outward manner belies his inner compulsions, but unlike his colleague he
cannot struggle with their emergence. Henry Jekyll, however, is nobody’s hero.
Although his actions are prompted by no single motive, his primary impulse is
fear. If Lanyon is afraid to admit vital truths about him-self, Jekyll fears these
same truths once he discovers them. Dedicated to an ethical rigidity more
severe than Utterson’s, because solely self-centered, he cannot face the
necessary con-tainment of his dual being. However he may attempt to
dis-guise his experiments under scientific objectivity, and his actions under a
macabre alter-ego, he is unable to mask his basic selfishness. As he reveals in
his final statement (the bare legal term is better than the more sentimental
“con-fession”), he has thrived upon duplicity and his reputation has been
maintained largely upon his successful ability to deceive. Yet he is no ordinary
hypocrite, a simple analogue of such other Stevenson characters as Deacon
Brodie. Only briefly does he pretend to be someone other than himself. Having
recognized his duality, he attempts to isolate his two selves into individual
beings and allow each to go his separate way. Mere disguise is never sufficient
for his ambition and his failure goes beyond hypocrisy, a violation of social
honesty, until it touches upon moral transgression, a violation of the physical
and metaphysical foundations of human existence. Henry Jekyll is a complex
example of his age of anxiety: woefully weighed down by self-deception,
cruelly a slave to his own weakness, sadly a disciple of a severe discipline, his
is a voice out of “De Profundis,” a cry of Victorian man from the depths of his
self-imposed under-ground. Henry Jekyll’s fiction is to identify that
underground man as Edward Hyde. The fiction of the story, however, confirms
DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE the insoluable duality of his being. Each of the
successive narratives strengthens that inherent union of antagonistic forces
which Jekyll attempts to deny. In each, the reader learns more about both
Jekyll and Hyde. Unlike conventional narratives where the action usually
develops with a continu-ous depiction of incident, the matter of Jekyll and
Hyde ends only after the several incidents have been illuminated by subjective
comment. (For example: the cold objective horror of the maid’s description as
Hyde pounces upon the unsuspect-ing Sir Danvers Carew is balanced by the
tormented narra-tives of a pitiful Lanyon and a compulsive Jekyll.) The
measure of this story is thus not only in its characters’ actions but in their
narrations of those actions. Nothing in the story is as singly frightening as
Henry Jekyll’s final narrative, for it is there that the reader learns most about
the distorted mind which released an unwilling Hyde. II The three separable
narrative voices-Enfield, Lanyon, Jekyll-are placed in successive order so that
they add in-creasing rhetorical and psychological dimension to the events
they describe. In contrast to other multiple narratives whose several
perspectives often raise questions of subjective truth and moral ambiguity, the
individual narratives in Jekyll and Hyde provide a linear regularity of
information, an incre-mental catalogue of attitudes toward Hyde’s
repulsiveness and Jekyll’s decline.6 Enfield’s narrative is the briefest as it
describes Hyde trampling a little girl. The salient items here are Enfield’s
unsuccessful attempts at objectivity and the horrified reactions of the other
spectators. To Enfield it is not the collision itself which is of primary
importance but Hyde’s casual indifference to the screaming agonies of his
victim. Hyde violates a norm of respectable behavior and his “The narrative
technique recalls Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Con-fessions of a Justified
Sinner, with its opening “Editor’s Narrative,” and its subsequent confession by
the Jekyll-like younger brother. Yet, as Lionel Stevenson suggests in a note, an
eclectic writer like Stevenson might also have found his model in the novels of
Wilkie Collins. Edwin Eigner, for example, discusses his indebtedness to
Frankenstein (pp. 161-164), while the necessary integration of natural and
social is of central concern in Meredith. Whatever his sources, Stevenson was
able to use them well. 722
IRVING S. SAPOSN 7I K subsequent offer of monetary retribution is nothing
more than automatic. Enfield’s description, therefore, accentuates Hyde’s
mechanical regularity in contrast to the human con-cern which a gentleman
should display (does Enfield recog-nize the artificiality of convention?). Thus
as objective as he would be by first describing Hyde as a little man with a
stumping gait, his rising gorge forces his language toward the metaphors of
“hellish,” “damned Juggernaut,” and “Satan.” Enfield, however, is reacting to
an action which he wit-nessed directly. More surprising is the reaction of the
hate-filled crowd that gathers around the cornered Hyde. They are responding
not to the trampling but to Hyde’s physical repulsiveness. Of these none is
more representative than the doctor who comes to attend the child. A
cut-and-dry Edinburgh apothecary, the most general of general practitioners,
“about as emotional as a bagpipe,” he cannot mask a fierce desire to kill Hyde
even as he looks at him. The first of the story’s three doctors, he represents
what might be termed the norma-tive medical mind. Placed here as an effective
contrast to his more ambitious colleagues Lanyon and Jekyll, his immedi-ate,
physical loathing foreshadows the later revelation that Hyde is more than a
stunted figure of a man, that he is in truth an amoral abstraction. Lanyon’s and
Jekyll’s narratives follow immediately upon each other. Both are voices from
the grave. As Enfield’s narrative was meant as an introduction to the dual
existence of Jekyll-Hyde, the doctors’ narratives occur appropriately after that
double existence is deduced. But before either may comment, Hyde must
emerge with uncontrollable suddenness and commit a murder from which
there is no escape but death. By the time of Lanyon’s narrative the reader
knows that the Hyde whose misdeeds he has been following has killed
himself, while he only suspects that Henry Jekyll has died by the same hand.
Lanyon’s narrative is the first to reveal the truth about the Jekyll-Hyde
relationship at the same time that it confirms the grim dominance of Hyde and
his magnetic “glittering eye.” The whole substance of his narrative is meant to
carry Hyde beyond the automatic and rather inno-cent actions of the Enfield
narrative so that he may now be seen as truly diabolical. If Enfield’s Hyde was
a Juggernaut, 723
DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE Lanyon’s is a cunning tempter ruthlessly proud of
his ability. Only after the reader has experienced the revelation of Lanyon’s
narrative does Stevenson permit him Jekyll’s “Full Statement.” That statement
should be read not simply as an appropriate conclusion to the narrative action
but as the culmination of the multiple-narrative technique. More than the other
narratives it attempts to present some insight into the narrator’s psychology at
the same time that it chronicles the process of his destruction. It thus
proceeds in two comple-mentary directions: a progressive exposition of
events verifi-able by their previous occurrence, and an explanation of those
events necessarily ambiguous, since they are offered by a man incapable of
self-judgment. Indeed, the structure of Jekyll’s statement is directed toward an
often inadvertent self-revelation which proves conclusively that his
selfishness and moral cowardice released the horrible personification of his
hidden drives. This is not to say that Jekyll is a fiend, no more than Hyde. Yet
with increasing evidence, he incriminates himself as the guilty party in an
indivisible relationship. He also details the legitimate scientific concerns which
prompted his experiment. His error, however, is that he uses these as excuses,
while the reader can view them only as explanations. Because of his
self-delusion, Jekyll remains un-aware of the true results of his experiment;
until the end he believes that Hyde “concerns another than myself.” Never able
to see beyond his initial deception, he learns little about himself or about the
essential failure of his experiment, and remains convinced that the
incompatible parts of his being can be separated. This, as much as anything
else, is Henry Jekyll’s tragedy. He is so enmeshed in his self-woven net of
duplicity that he cannot identify the two entities whose separation he hopes to
achieve. By seeing Hyde as another being rather than as part of himself, he is
forced to deny the most significant result of his experiment and indeed of his
entire story, the inescapable conclusion that man must dwell in uncomfortable
but necessary harmony with his multiple selves. The final suicide is thus
fittingly a dual effort: though the hand that administers the poison is Edward
Hyde’s, it is Henry Jekyll who forces the action. Never before have they been
so much one as when Hyde insures the realization of Jekyll’s death-wish. 724
IRVING S. SAPOSNI K III Stevenson’s fictional abilities are further evidenced
by his successful insertion of thematic contrasts into the narrative structure
itself. The topography of Jekyll and Hyde may be seen as a study in symbolic
location, a carefully worked out series of contrasts between exterior modes
and interior reali-ties. Like much of Victorian life and letters, most of the
story’s action is physically internalized behind four walls.7 Utterson’s
ruminations, Lanyon’s seduction, and Jekyll-Hyde’s death all occur within the
protective confines of what Steven-son in an essay termed “The Ideal House.”
Although, as Walter Houghton has observed,8 the Victorian home was often a
temple of domestic virtues, it also served as a shelter, a screen not only from
the threatening forces of the new age but from the all-seeing eye of Mrs.
Grundy. In an age of increasing privatization it could not be otherwise.9 While
the structure of Jekyll and Hyde is predicated upon a contrast between
exterior and interior, the contrast is never allowed to remain static. The actions
that occur in each repre-sent an intriguing paradox: in the exterior, social
ambles and foul crimes; in the interior, elegant drawing rooms and secreted
laboratories. Each division contains two opposing 7Although tentative, my
impression of Victorian literature is that it grows increasingly internal. Not only
are more novels set in cities but the action of those novels takes place within
interior settings. The parallel phenomenon here is the increasing regularity of
the box set and the simultaneous loss of the stage apron. The retreat behind a
frame becomes a physical symbol for a social condition; the domestic
melodrama becomes at once the popular vehicle and the cardinal meta-phor, a
synthesis of fantasy and reality. 8Walter Houghton, The Victorian Frame of
Mind (New Haven, 1957), p.343. 9Both Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel
(Berkeley, 1959), pp. 174-207, and Steven Marcus, The Other Victorians (New
York, 1967), p. 250, provide discussions of privatization and its relation to
literature. Watt is particularly cogent on the course of modern literature, while
Marcus draws special attention to pornography. What Marcus indicates is that
the reading habits (not to speak of other practices) of underground man were
often extensions of social behavior. As his reading habits represent “a further
withdrawal into the arcane,” so too the locations of the novels he read
represent an increasing internalization. It is not surprising, for example, that
so much of Victorian underground litera-ture takes place indoors. The narrator
of A Man With A Maid wishes to build a mechanical sexual paradise within the
confines of his rented flat, while Walter, in My Secret Life, has intercourse with
a workman’s wife in the uninhabited building her husband just completed. 725
76DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE elements which combine to characterize the
individual locale, while both locations in their necessary union represent the
social cosmos. The result is a social bond no less indivisible than the moral
bond which Jekyll attempts unsuccessfully to sever. The central metaphor
here is Jekyll’s house, with its sinister rear entrance through which Hyde
passes and its handsome front “which wore a great air of wealth and
com-fort”: the two faces of Jekyll contained in one inseparable dwelling. The
paradox is continued as the action of Jekyll and Hyde becomes internalized.
The two final subjective accounts solidi-fy this process on a psychological
level, while the action itself leads further and further into the interiort of
Jekyll’s house. Although the reader’s first views of the house are external, the
action soon directs him to the hall, then to the study, and finally to the
ominous experiments behind the closed door of the former dissection
laboratory. As Poole and Utterson break down the last barrier to Jekyll’s
secret, they literally and metaphorically destroy his one remaining refuge; by
invading his physical sanctuary they force him into a psycho-logical
admission whose only possibility is death. Stevenson’s skillful juggling of
literal and metaphoric-his ability to sug-gest the symbolic significance of
commonplace reality-is undoubtedly the chief difference between the original
bogey story to which his wife, Fanny, objected and the classic fable which
Jekyll and Hyde has become.10 Clearly the most telling evidence of this skill is
his ability to select highly suggestive scenery and to allow its multiple
suggestions to form the several layers of his narrative. IV For reader and
non-reader alike, the crucial item of thematic significance has been Edward
Hyde. Unquestionably the domi-nant character, his role in the narrative is often
considered the fictional mechanism by which the moral truths are driven
home. Surely such a reading is partial, for it fails to approach ?Despite some
difference in details, all accounts of the writing of Jekyll and Hyde indicate that
Fanny objected to its initial sensational-ism and suggested that it be rewritten
as an allegory. Though Isobel Field (Fanny’s daughter) indicates in an
unpublished letter that Fanny actually helped with the revision, her
suggestions alone clearly pointed the story in its successful direction. 726
IRVING S. SAPOSNIK the story as a total construct and thus commits the sin
of facile separation only a trifle less grievous than Jekyll’s. Yet Hyde’s identity,
both physical and moral, is the pervasive mystery whose elusiveness and final
revelation unites the fic-tional and moral concerns. Without Jekyll there could
never have been a Hyde, and without Hyde one can never fully know Jekyll.
Thus an ability to understand their relationship rests on an ability to identify
what Hyde represents. To begin nega-tively: he is not the antithetical evil to
Jekyll’s good nor is he evil at all. His cruelty derives from his association with
Jekyll, not from any inherent motivation toward destruction. True he is
compulsive (as is Jekyll), a veritable Juggernaut proceeding on his mechanical
way, but this is characteristic primarily of his initial movements when Jekyll’s
desires first spring him from his lair. One of the more fascinating
develop-ments in the story is Hyde’s growing malice, his increasing
premeditation as he becomes more and more a mortal. Further, he is not the
physical manifestation of Jekyll’s id too long repressed by a leering ego. This
sexual reading has contributed perhaps more than any other to the
vulgarization of Stevenson’s intentions, and as early as 1887 he recognized its
threat. Responding to a letter from John Paul Bocock, then editor of the New
York Sun, he attempted to counter Mans-field’s distortions: You are right as to
Mansfield: Hyde was the younger of the two. He was not… Great Gods! a mere
voluptu-ary. There is no harm in a voluptuary; and none, with my hand on my
heart and in the sight of God none-no harm whatever in what prurient fools call
“im-morality.” The harm was in Jekyll, because he was a hypocrite-not
because he was fond of women; he says so himself, but people are so filled
full of folly and inverted lust, that they can think of nothing but sexuality.1
Stevenson’s letter is a necessary antidote to a spreading malignancy but its
effect has been relatively nugatory. The legendary Hyde is obviously a difficult
opponent. There is clearly something consolatory about equating Hyde with
illicit sex; it localizes one’s impulses and allows indulgences “Quoted by
George S. Hellman, The True Stevenson (Boston, 1926), p. 129. 727
DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE within the proprieties. Stevenson’s Hyde, on the
other hand, though less formidable is more substantial. His substantiality
increases, in fact, in direct proportion to his recognition as the essence of
man’s natural vitality. The key word is natural, for it governs the entire amoral
world from which Hyde emerges. As the mirror of Jekyll’s inner compulsions
he represents that shadow side of man which civilization has striven to
submerge. He is a creature of primitive sensibilities loosed upon a world bent
on denying him. A reminder of the barbarism which underlies civilization, he is
a necessary component of human psychology which most would prefer to
leave unrealized. As an essential life force, Hyde’s proper role is to act in
harmony with the other parts of man’s being. The ideal is expressed in
Stevenson’s essay, “Lay Morals”: [The soul] demands that we should not live
alternately with our opposing tendencies in continual see-saw of passion and
disgust, but seek some path on which the tendencies shall no longer oppose,
but serve each other to common end. . . . The soul demands unity of pur-pose,
not dismemberment of man; it seeks to roll up all his strength and sweetness,
all his passion and wisdom, into one, and make of him a perfect man exulting
in perfection. (II, 179) Yet Stevenson, like Arnold before him, recognized that
the ideal of “one aim, one business, one desire” is an El Dorado of the soul’s
pursuit. Throughout his writings Stevenson dwells upon the in-escapable
burden which any relationship between the barbaric and the civilized
produces. Painfully aware of the difficulties their conjunction necessitates, he
continues to affirm their vi-tal correspondence. In the essays the expression is
often a cos-mic groan: “For nowadays the pride of man denies in vain his
kinship with the original dust. . . . The whole creation groan-eth and travaileth
together” (“Pulvis Et Umbra,” XIII, 205); in the letters an involuntary gasp:
“Jekyll is a dreadful thing I own; but the only thing I feel dreadful about is that
damned old business of the war in the members. This time it came out; I hope
it will stay in, in the future” (Letter to John Addington Symonds, II, 292); in the
fiction an unavoidable admission: “I have been made to learn that the doom
and burthen of our life is bound for ever on man’s shoulders, and when the 728
IRVING S. SAPOSNIK attempt is made to cast it off, it but returns upon us with
more unfamiliar and more awful pressure” (Jekyll and Hyde, X, 71). Although
the last statement is Jekyll’s, the sentiments are Stevenson’s; they could have
been spoken by several of his fictional characters who are much like
Jekyll-Markheim, Brodie, Herrick, Henry Durie-for they indicate an essential
conclusion toward which much of the fiction is directed. It is in his fiction
particularly that Stevenson develops this double strain of being; there he
illustrates the inevitable conflict between natural urges and societal pressures,
and there he presents the tragedy of those who surrender themselves to
either. Jekyll surrenders to his society. “The harm [that] was in Jekyll” was in
large part the harm of Victoria’s England and his unwillingness to
acknowledge his kinship with Edward Hyde may be likened to everyone else’s
intense hatred of his moral twin. The universal hatred directed at Hyde both in
and out of the story is a striking verification of the extent to which Victorian
England feared what he represented. Jekyll’s repugnance is scarcely his alone
and his actions are predicated upon a social ethic only slightly less distorted
than his moral myopia. Victorian anxieties contributed greatly to Jekyll and
Hyde’s success. The fictional paradox revealed the social paradox; Jekyll’s
dilemma spoke for more of his countrymen than many were willing to admit. If
Jekyll’s fears are taken as a barometer of Victorian anxieties, then his
relationship to Hyde becomes apparent. While Jekyll represents a man “in the
pink of the proprieties,” Hyde is the brutal embodiment of the moral, social,
political, and economic threats which shook the uncertain Victorian world. In
his moral role he exemplifies the impossibility of any successful separation of
man’s natural being. A meta-physical impulse in a postlapsarian world, any
attempted return to Eden (he proves) must be made at the cost of one’s life.
Likewise, his social identity cautions the attempted imposition of a new
Manicheanism based upon a dichotomy between external and internal
behavior. As Chesterton recog-nized: “The real stab of the story is not in the
discovery that the one man is two men; but in the discovery that the two men
are one man. . . . The point of the story is not that 729
DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE a man can cut himself off from his conscience,
but that he cannot” (p. 72). As political and economic man, Hyde’s role is more
subtle. The inevitability of his brute power, his unceasing energy, no doubt
recalled to many the threatening forces which were beat-ing upon the solid
doors of their comfortable homes. Hide in them as he would, Victorian man
could not for long confine himself beneath the domestic covers.12 He feared
“the armies of the night,” the troops of the new politics and the new
economics that were massing for the onslaught. Two examples clarify this
context. The first is Dickens’s Wemmick, who, beset by the requisites of the
new economics, finds it necessary to become a double man, a public and a
private personality. His fortress-like house is a singularly apt metaphor for the
fearful manner in which Victorian man attempted to with-draw behind his solid
wall of comfort. Wemmick is a comic variant of Jekyll-Hyde, for he finds a
solution which, if limited, is nonetheless salutary. The second is a comment
from H. V. Routh’s Money, Morals, and Manners as Revealed in Modern
Literature (London, 1935): “the typical upper class Victorian was haunted by a
ghost, a dry-featured dwarfish caricature of himself unpleasantly like the
economic man” (p. 141). Few descriptions of Hyde have been better. The story
contains no description more precise. Hyde is usually described in metaphors
because essentially that is what he is: a metaphor of uncontrolled appetites,
an amoral abstraction driven by a compelling will unrestrained by any moral
halter. Such a creature is, of necessity, only figuratively describable, for his
deformity is moral rather than physical. “Stevenson’s symbolic structure has
led to speculation on the significance of Jekyll’s and Hyde’s name. A recent
suggestion by Joseph J. Egan (“The Relationship of Theme and Art in The
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” English Literature in Transition, IX,
28-32), is that Jekyll is from the French Je=self, and kyll kill; in other words a
designated self-destroyer. The speculation on Hyde’s name has been less
imaginative. Stevenson himself hints at a possible reading when he has
Utterson say, “If he be Mr. Hyde, I shall be Mr. Seek.” The reference is both to
the children’s game of pursuit and to the hidden being of that quest whose
secret refuge must be discovered and revealed. In short, Mr. Hyde is very
much “it.” In addition, his name may be suggestive of another meaning of
hide, one’s external animality which serves as both assertion and protection.
Yet, the multiple shadings in his name remain uncertain. In this regard, as in
others, the richness of the story is a quality of its indefinite connotations. 730
I R V I N G S. S A P O S N I K Purposely left vague, he is best described as
Jekyll-deformed— dwarfish, stumping, apelike-a frightening parody of a man
unable to exist on the surface. He and Jekyll are inextricably joined because
one without the other cannot function in society. As Hyde is Jekyll’s initial
disguise, so Jekyll is Hyde’s refuge after the Carew murder. If Jekyll reflects
respect-ability, then Hyde is his image “through the looking glass.” Hyde’s
literal power ends with his suicide, but his metaphori-cal power is seemingly
infinite. Many things to his contempo-raries, he has grown beyond
Stevenson’s story in an age of automatic Freudian response.l3 As Hyde has
grown, Jekyll has been overshadowed so that his role has shifted from culprit
to victim. Accordingly, the original fable has assumed a mean-ing neither
significant for the nineteenth century nor substan-tial for the twentieth. The
time has come for Jekyll and Hyde to be put back together again.
UNIVERSITYO FW ISCONSIN, MADISON “An important indication that
pre-Freudian analysis had already begun to distort the story may be taken
from F. W. Myers’s letters to Steven-son on Jekyll and Hyde. Myers was one of
the founders of the Society for Psychical Research and, with the
recommendation of Symonds, wrote to Stevenson shortly after the story’s
publication. Mistaking Stevenson’s politeness for genuine interest (see letter
to Myers, II, 294), he sent off five large sheets of comments upon specific
details, many of which he wished corrected. A survey of these notes (now in
the Beinecke Library) indicates that Myers chose to read the story as a
realistic portrayal of specialized psychic phenomena. Accordingly, Myers
asked that Jekyll’s goodness be more apparent, that Hyde’s crimes be more
overtly sexual, and that all else be in keeping with the verities of psychological
experimentation. Many of his readings are ingenious, yet he expends “much
spirit in a waste of shame.” In attempting to turn the story into a case study of
psychical transference, he tramples upon its broader moral significance. 731

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